Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Pan Am Recap: Nuclear Meltdown

You know how, sometimes, when you go a long time without seeing someone you used to like, you spend all that time thinking fondly about that person’s very best qualities and feeling like maybe, when you meet up again, you’ll fall in love? And then you see each other, and that person starts talking, and you remember that one bad thing about that person was that he or she was bat-shit insane? That’s pretty much how I feel about this week’s Pan Am.

An awful lot has changed since two weeks ago. So much so, in fact, that I’m suspecting some sort of light-years barrier was broken and nobody felt the need to let us, the hapless viewers, know about it. One such unexpected development is that Kate has had it up to HERE with courier-related espionage. She is so, so pissed about what the CIA did to Niko, especially after the CIA had the nerve to kindly pull so many strings for her last episode. She wants out, but Richard isn’t too keen on that idea. There is literally no other way that he could get a piece of paper with fake names on it to London, so Richard bullies Kate into taking it with her.

Sam (???) shows up at Maggie’s apartment to beg his way to London, where he hopes to protest the World Atomic Symposium. Maggie gets him a seat, but soon regrets it — Sam spots Congressman Rollings on the plane and screams at him about the dangers of nuclear weapons. She relocates Sam to the non-handsome area of the plane and scolds him sharply for failing to “fit in.” Sam’s mad at Maggie for failing to hold to her principles, which is weird because it seems like he should have known her long enough to know that she doesn’t have any. In what once seemed like an attempt to paint Maggie as the free spirit of Pan Am, the show has molded her into something more like a chameleon who matches herself to whatever man she’s handing a drink to that week. It’s icky.

Dean and Colette, meanwhile, are playing lovers’ hooky. Seriously, what the shit happened over these last two weeks? Dean is picking up Colette in a jean-on-jean ensemble? And they’re GROCERY SHOPPING together? I shipped those two crazy kids just as much as the rest of you people, but there is a good deal of relationship buildup missing here. Colette seems to feel the same way, because when Dean casually mentions that they’ll be meeting his parents, she’s like, “You cannot possibly be serious, monsieur.”

Back onboard, substitute pilot Thornton gawks down Laura’s blouse, and she responds by dropping hot coffee on him, which is a response I wholeheartedly support in every situation except for when plane-flying is involved, but no matter. Thornton threatens to file a disciplinary report, but Ted steps in to calm him down. He wants a favor from Laura, and it makes only slightly less sense than everything else that happens in this episode — he wants her to pretend to be his angry girlfriend to “save” him from a dinner with his childhood babe-bully Amanda Hartford Mason (Ashley Greene). Because he wants her to think he has a new hot girlfriend who dislikes him, I guess? No, but really, do you guys think they’ll be releasing Cliffs Notes for the next few episodes? I’m worried.

Kate’s mission is supposed to be the highlight of this episode — it’s supposed to SHOCK EVERYBODY. The problem is that it doesn’t make any sense. Pan Am has consistently grabbed for weird little spy drama straws while abandoning all that was ever really enjoyable about the show in the process. All I ever wanted was more making out, you know? Instead, we have a spy mission with a “hitch.” Anderson tells Kate that they have to sneak into a man’s safe to replace his copy of the real spy list with the fake one (which, by the way, sort of looked like numbers??). “Luckily, Mr. Bulger was struck blind in a Communist-related accident!” is what I was hoping someone would say to explain why it made sense to switch out a list he had presumably already seen, but no such luck.

On Dean’s parents’ farm, Dean walks Colette up to the door and his parents literally say, “And this must be Bridget!” So awkward, but also I can’t blame them for the confusion. I CAN blame Dean’s dad for asking about Bridget two more times, though, and then asking Colette if she’s expecting. (Daaaaad!) Colette runs off to the barn, and Dean follows her to explain himself with so much bullshit that I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, he says he “broke up with Bridget” because she wasn’t “real.” Which, Dean, dude, all of us saw how that really went down. Colette didn’t, though, so she’s swayed, because they’ve fallen madly in love in the last two weeks. So they have hay sex, which actually would be the worst.

On her mission to save Ted from his mean girl, Laura puts on a smoking black dress and tells him he’s a decent man. She’s in love with him a bit, again. You could never say there’s no character development on Pan Am! It’s just that it’s never sensible, or remotely chronological. But it’s there, spasming along. However, despite the fact that Ted is in love with Laura, he is also smitten with Amanda, because she is from those popular Twilight films. This makes Laura sad. Cookies. Girl, go get Joe. JOE.

Maggie spots Congressman Rollings in the lobby and decides to heed Sam’s advice, so she follows him up to his room to pretend like she cares about banning nuclear testing. They get drunk and have sex. They called it “mutual disarmament” and my eyes fell out from rolling too hard. And THEN, Dean and Colette were lying naked in their new hay home (where … are Dean’s parents?) and decided to have sex again so that Colette could “earn her wings” and then I cut off my own head. Too many euphemisms! That one wasn’t even supposed to be funny. It was set to serious, egregious saxophone. Mayday! Maydayyy.

The next morning, Maggie jumps out of bed to read her new boyfriend’s speech, which she is super excited about because now she practically loves nuclear weapons. Still, apparently Chris “Mussolini Was a Childhood Hero” Rollings’s tone is a bit too much for Maggie, so she sets the speech on fire. And then that fire sets the hotel on fire. And then Chris tells Maggie he likes that she’s obnoxious, and also willing to morph herself into a girl version of him.

The fire alarm scares off the bad guy, so Kate tears off after him. She follows him into some building, where she sees him fighting with Mr. Anderson. They kick a gun down the stairs mid-brawl, so just as Mr. Bulger is about to deliver the kill shot to Mr. Anderson, Kate shoots him. It was all very season-two finale of The O.C., only this time I wasn’t so overcome with emotion that I cried. And you know why that is? I don’t know who these people are anymore. May they take this next month to sit in a corner and really think about what they’ve done.  

Photo: Patrick Harbron/ABC